The Essential Startup’s Communication Toolkit
There are three essential elements to a startup’s communication toolkit. All help to sum up what you do in an instant, engage potential partners, customers and investors, and intrigue them into starting a conversation about working with you.
Even better, they also feed into each other, which helps to minimise your workload.
So, with all due fanfare, here they are, in order of importance.
Core Message (Value Proposition)
Modern life is relentless, the demands are endless, people are busy, which means you’ve got a handful of seconds to impress when explaining your business.
You’ve got to do so clearly and concisely, interestingly and enticingly, and in no more than ten words. Which is where your value proposition, or core message, comes in.
Only 10 words is a big ask. So I find a heroes and villains approach works best when I’m consulting with companies on theirs.
The villain is the problem you’re solving. The hero is you, saving us from it. Some examples:
- Tap the app, get a ride (Uber)
- Save money without thinking about it (Digit)
- Make your website better instantly (Crazy Egg)
See how each identifies the problem and sets itself up as the solution? It also does so in a memorable way, which makes you feel good and draws you in to wanting to find out more.
Those are the critical elements of an effective value proposition.
It’s an oddity of the communications world that the fewest words often take the most work.
So don’t be surprised if your value proposition demands days to sculpt into a beautiful and elegant masterpiece of minimal words. But it’s time well spent, I promise you.
Now you’ve got the heart and soul of your business nailed with your value proposition, you can use it to feed your elevator pitch.
The scenario is that you’ve just met your ideal customer, investor, or even mentor in a lift, and you’ve got the time between floors to impress them.
That means 25 seconds, or about 75 words maximum. During which you’ve got to:
- Grab their attention immediately (use your value proposition)
- Introduce yourself
- Establish your credibility
- Include a call to action
Here’s an example I might use for my company, Creative Warehouse, a complete business communication agency:
- We can solve all your communication problems, and with style. Creative Warehouse has supported startups, established companies and organisations including the leading tech firm Arm, the University of Cambridge, the Department for International Trade, and Google in their communication, media, and public relations work. I’m Simon Hall, Director of Creative Warehouse, so if you want to give me your card, we can happily talk more.
See how our value proposition leads the way as the hook? Also, don’t forget to be calm and authoritative, not rushed and overbearing.
Body language and bearing is important. It’s not just your business people buy into, it’s you as well.
Next on your list of business communication essentials comes your website.
Happily, you’ve already done a lot of the work to make this relatively straightforward.
Again, remember people are busy. They want to know they’re in the right place immediately, so make sure your value proposition is prominent. This is how ours works:
Following that, set out your credibility, as you did in your elevator pitch. Tell us a bit more about you, but not too much. I understand the temptation, but resist.
Less is more. Modern websites are text light, image heavy, as most are now viewed on mobile phones.
Remember, startups don’t tend to sell on a website. But you can impress and intrigue, which draws someone in to starting a conversation, the first stage towards some business getting done.
Include your team, your products or project, a floating contact icon to make it easy to get in touch, and that’s about all you need for an effective startup website.
Working out the words to woo and wow is one of the most enjoyable parts of business. Have fun creating your essential business communications toolkit, but never doubt its importance.
If you can’t explain and engage in an instant, you stand far less chance of being a success.
By the way, if you need more on the essentials of business communication, you can see my book: